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"Planet Nine" update: Possible resonances beyond the Kuiper belt?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/08 11:34 CST | 26 comments

A new paper by Renu Malhotra proposes that an undiscovered distant planet could have organized extremely distant Kuiper belt objects into orbital resonances.

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30th anniversary images of Uranian moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/02 01:06 CST | 6 comments

January 24 was the 30th anniversary of the Voyager flyby of Uranus. Uranian moons have been on my mind ever since New Horizons sent us close-up images of Charon. On the occasion of the anniversary, Ted Stryk produced latest-and-greatest versions of the Voyager views of these worlds.

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xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/22 01:00 CST | 3 comments

Randall Munroe is a genius at disguising seriously educational infographics as funny jokes.

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Theoretical evidence for an undiscovered super-Earth at the edge of our solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/20 11:54 CST | 37 comments

It's looking likelier that there is an undiscovered planet orbiting beyond the Kuiper belt. If it's there, it's roughly 10 times the mass of Earth (or about half the mass of Neptune), likely never gets closer to the Sun than about 100 AU, and takes more than 10,000 years to orbit the Sun.

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Pluto updates from AGU and DPS: Pretty pictures from a confusing world

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/21 05:38 CST | 7 comments

Pluto is reluctant to give up its secrets. Last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting I attended sessions featuring results from the New Horizons mission, and most of the presentations could be summed up thusly: the data sets are terrific, but there are still a lot of Pluto features that have scientists scratching their heads.

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Charon in 3D

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/13 06:40 CDT | 3 comments

Last week, the pile of New Horizons LORRI camera raw image releases included nine frames from a high-resolution mosaic on Charon. Together with the color MVIC view, they make a 3D global photo of Pluto's moon. Other recently released goodies include a global backlit color image of Pluto and the first image that resolves the tiny moon Styx.

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New Horizons releases new color pictures of Charon, high-resolution lookback photo of Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/02 06:05 CDT | 15 comments

Now that New Horizons is regularly sending back data, the mission is settling into a routine of releasing a set of captioned images on Thursdays, followed by raw LORRI images on Friday. The Thursday releases give us the opportunity to see lovely color data from the spacecraft's Ralph MVIC instrument. This week, the newly available color data set covered Charon.

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Lose yourself in this high-resolution portrait of Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/24 04:45 CDT | 13 comments

Enlarge this image to its full 8000-pixel-square glory and lose yourself in it.

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Spectacular New Horizons photo of Pluto's hazes and mountains: How it was made

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/17 04:04 CDT | 11 comments

Today, New Horizons released a stunning new image of Pluto's backlit mountains and hazes. I explain how the image was taken with its Ralph Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera.

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Roundup of the September 11, 2015 New Horizons raw image release

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/15 04:47 CDT | 4 comments

Last Friday the Internet received its first post-encounter pile of goodies from the New Horizons flyby of the Pluto system.

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Pretty Pictures: Downlink of the Full New Horizons Data Set Has Begun

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/10 04:52 CDT | 7 comments

New Horizons has begun the long process of downlinking all the images it acquired during its July Pluto flyby.

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New Horizons extended mission target selected

Posted by Emily LakdawallaCasey Dreier on 2015/09/01 06:09 CDT | 5 comments

The New Horizons mission has formally selected its next target after Pluto: a tiny, dim, frozen world currently named 2014 MU69. The spacecraft will perform a series of four rocket firings in October and November to angle its trajectory to pass close by 2014 MU69 in early January 2019. In so doing, New Horizons will become the first flyby craft to pass by a target that was not discovered before the spacecraft launched.

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Three space fan visualizations of New Horizons' Pluto-Charon flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/25 01:42 CDT | 4 comments

It has been a difficult wait for new New Horizons images, but the wait is almost over; Alan Stern announced at today's Outer Planets Advisory Group meeting that image downlink will resume September 5. In the meantime, a few space fans are making the most of the small amount of data that has been returned to date.

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Looking back at Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/24 07:12 CDT | 17 comments

I don't think anyone was prepared for the beauty -- or the instant scientific discoveries -- in this "lookback" image of Pluto, captured by New Horizons shortly after it flew by.

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New Horizons encounter plus one week: Weird and wonderful images from the Pluto system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/21 06:39 CDT | 23 comments

So many new image goodies from the Pluto system!

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Latest New Horizons picture of Charon: oddly familiar

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/16 02:45 CDT | 14 comments

The New Horizons team released one more picture from Tuesday's encounter, one of three high-resolution images from a mosaic that crossed the center of Charon's disk, and it took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of.

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First look at New Horizons' Pluto and Charon images: "baffling in a very interesting and wonderful way"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/15 04:42 CDT | 33 comments

Today's press briefing at the Applied Physics Laboratory in California was preceded by hours of New Horizons team members cryptically dropping hints on Twitter at astonishing details in the seven images downlinked since the flyby. The images are, in fact, astonishing, as well as beautiful, surprising, and puzzling.

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New Horizons' best look at Pluto before close approach

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 08:12 CDT | 27 comments

Feast your eyes upon it!

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Pluto minus one day: Very first New Horizons Pluto encounter science results

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/13 12:16 CDT | 15 comments

At a press briefing this morning, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern divulged some extremely preliminary first science results from the New Horizons Pluto encounter. Science results include Pluto's diameter and information on its surface composition and atmospheric escape.

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Zooming in to Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/12 07:31 CDT | 9 comments

In the span of a few days, Pluto and Charon have turned from spots into worlds. The latest images from New Horizons are showing Pluto and Charon to have unique faces, distinct from any other icy worlds in the solar system.

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